To swear or not to swear, that is the question

OK, I know what the right answer is – not to swear in front of your kids – but is it really? Am I a bad mother if I swear in front of them a little?
Mums I know have really strong opposing views on this topic. I know some mums who swear wild and free, their reason being that it’s who they are and it’s how they choose to express joy or rage or excitement and they teach their kids when it is (at home) and isn’t (at school/grandma’s/aunt Suzanne’s house) OK to say “the S word”.
Then there are the mums who mouth the word “crap” instead if saying it aloud (is crap even considered swearing anymore?), would never dream of uttering “the F word” and would be mortified if their child spilled their drink at dinner and said “oh bugger”. Their reasons are that they want their children to grow up with good manners and there are a myriad of alternate ways to express yourself than having to resort to swears.
Look, I see both points of view and I agree in part with both, but what am I personally going to do? I haven’t decided yet. The reason is that I grew up in a house where swearing was forbidden. We couldn’t even say “pooh head”. I called my mum a “silly billy” once and got sent to my room! Equally we were given detention for swearing in school; I once got 1000 lines of “look like a lady, speak like a lady” (oh so many things wrong with that line but we can discuss the misogyny of the British education system in the 1990s at a later date!) but my point is that I swear now. Yes I know it’s not “ladylike” but that’s kind of my point. Why should I not swear (but a man can)? If I drop a glass on the kitchen floor, in the heat of the moment will I really say “oh bother” or maybe “shhhhhhhhhugar”? Or will I say “oh shit!” like I did yesterday. I know when it’s OK to swear, I’d never do it in front of someone I knew hated it as I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, nor do I swear for no real reason (much).
I guess my conclusion is that I want to teach my kids about swearing the way I want to teach them about sex and drugs and alcohol – I want them to hear the real honest truth, from me, someone they trust and who has their best interests at heart. I don’t want to educate them in the way I was educated about those things I.e. “NEVER DO IT. End of discussion”. Because no one would talk to me about “forbidden things” I simply went out and learned about that stuff all by myself. I definitely want Serena to learn from me and for us to be able to have an honest enough relationship for her to be able to say anything to me.
Maybe even shit!

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Flying to Canada with a 3 month old. Terrifying? Not when you’re flying British Airways (BA) and your air hostess is called Katie!

I recently flew to Canada with Izzie on British Airways (BA) so she could meet my family. As she was born in London, no one from my family other than my Mum had met her yet.The idea of travelling with such a young baby terrified me so much that I started planning our adventure 2 months ahead of time. I was adamant I needed to know everything about flying with an infant, especially considering my husband was staying behind. I looked at every website and blog I could find to ensure I knew exactly what I was allowed to bring on board with me etc. Being a notoriously heavy packer, I knew I had to somehow consolidate my clothes and toiletries, the plan was to stay for 3 months so that meant I somehow needed to fit everything in, including Izzie’s extensive wardrobe of 3-6 month clothes.  I finally managed to fit everything into two suitcases weighing 23kg (EXACTLY) each and shoved everything else into our 3 carry-on bags including her bottles. I knew I would not be allowed to carry large amounts of formula through security without having to open the sterile ready-feed formula bottles to taste them, so I opted to purchase all of the Aptamil I needed, plus some, from the Boots through security at terminal 5.

Getting to the airport was easy. My husband took us to the check-in counter and carried our bags. I chose a back pack, my Storksak nappy bag and the bag that fits on the front of our Stokke Xplory pram, as my carry-on bags as they all attach to the pram so I knew I would not have to carry anything and balance the baby as well. We figured out a way to wedge the car seat under the pram seat so it stayed put and off we went through security. The tricky bit started when we arrived at the gate.

What they don’t tell you when you are travelling BA is that if your need to take a bus to your aircraft, you first have to collapse your pram. This presented a problem as my pram was holding all three of our carry-ons, my baby and the car seat. There was no way I was going to be able to manage it all on my own, in addition to carrying my collapsed pram and pram seat. I started to panic. What was I going to do?!?!

No, I said to myself, I will not panic, I will  become supermum and pull this off. It was fine, really, I’ll just balance the baby, one bag here, then put the seat under that arm… oh crap! I was royally screwed!

Except, luckily, I was flying a BA flight with a superb crew that day!

As I was collapsing my pram, a lovely lady working at the desk offered to hold Izzie while I sorted everything out. Another gentlemen offered to carry my pram and car seat onto the bus for me.  Great I thought, but how do I get it all off again?!?!  No problem!  I don’t know why I was worried, I was flying BA.

When we arrived at the aircraft, the bus driver, kindly took my pram and car seat to the drop point so it could be loaded on the plane. I then had to climb the stairs to the aircraft, this was by far the most difficult part of our journey as I did have to carry our 3 bags and my daughter up the stairs – bearing in mind 3 months of formula I bought at the terminal. Do not fret however, I was flying BA, it got easier. When I arrived at the door I was greeted by the most lovely air hostess I have EVER met, Katie (KATIE!). The air hosts greeting us at the door all saw we were struggling and Katie was the first to spring into action. She took Izzie and one of my bags for me and escorted me to our seats. Katie, promptly assisted me in getting everything I needed for take-off out of my bags and helped me get settled quickly and effortlessly. As I settled into my seat Katie kept hold of Izzie and reassured me that everything would be fine (did I mention I was a panting nervous wreck at the thought of flying across an ocean with my newborn?!?!).

Once all the passengers had boarded, Katie brought me Izzie’s safety belt and talked me through everything I needed to know to keep her and I safe, and comfortable. She explained I should feed Izzie during take-off and landing to help her ears and that I should leave it as long as possible before I began the feed. When the seat belt signs were switched off, Katie quickly got me a cot for Izzie and secured it in front of me so she and I could both rest comfortably. Throughout the flight she would check on us and would watch Izzie for me while I used the loo. She was wonderful!

When we landed in Toronto deplaning was just as easy. Katie assisted me in taking all my bags to the aircraft doors where my pram and car seat were waiting and she again held Izzie while I assembled it all. Katie went way above and beyond to assist me and make our flight as enjoyable as possible – A SAINT! Katie and the rest of the BA staff were absolutely wonderful and made my journey home with Izzie as easy and comfortable as I could have ever hoped for.

So from my experience I have compiled some of my top tips for flying with a newborn:

1)      If you are not exclusively breastfeeding, bring all your bottles pre-sterilised and pre-order ready-made formula from the chemist on the other side of security (click here to learn more).

2)      Use bags which attach easily to your pram as your carry-ons. This frees up your hands and gives your shoulders a break;

3)      Bring lots of baby wipes in your nappy bag. These come in very handy when your baby is touching everything and potentially picking up germs from all over the world that they are not immune to, but they also come in handy when the air pressure and altitude cause poo-plosions and baby sick incidents (trust me!);

4)      Sleep when your baby sleeps. This is especially important when you are flying long haul. As tempting as it is to stay awake and watch that new release, it is unlikely that your baby will sleep through the length of the flight and you need to re-energise to keep them entertained when they do wake up;

5)      Fly BA and ask for KATIE!

(HOT TIP: Unlike some airlines, when you fly BA with a child under 2 you do not pay a percentage of the adult fare if the child is travelling in your lap (this includes seats with cots), all you pay is the taxes.)

 

 

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Spending torture…

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My inbox still looks like that of a childless, dual income 20-something and it’s like torture but for some reason I just can’t hit unsubscribe!
The double whammy of suddenly having no income plus buying a house has left me no choice but to go on a shopping starvation diet but yet, like a furtive addict, I continue to read my Secret Sales newsletters and my Shopstyle alerts. Sometimes I even visit the sites and put things in my shopping basket – just for fun. This morning at 5:30am It was a vintage Prada handbag. I didn’t even buy any designer things when I had disposable income!
My days of gallivanting off on weekends away for no reason other than “we had no other plans” are long gone (at least for the next 18 years or so) yet I still look at my Trip Advisor bulletins and Secret Escapes newsletters, lustfully reading about refurbished country house hotels with bathtubs in the bedrooms and Michelin star chefs who’ll make you eggs benedict and deliver it to you in bed. My breakfast this morning was an after dinner mint, an orange Quality Street and a can of Pepsi max*.
Song kick continue to tell me about gigs I might like to go to based on the music on my iTunes, @Rebelbingo still let me know about the latest nights they’re doing, I even had an email recently telling me there was still time to get Glastonbury tickets! I mean Glastonbury with a 4 month old, really. But come to think of it, I would be much more equipped to deal with the day 5 stink of the long-drops now I’ve lived with princess poo-poo for 4 months…

I know it’s sick and wrong to be voyeuristically checking out what’s going on in my old life whilst I’m in my new one, but I just can’t help it. I’ve included links to my biggest temptresses so you can join me. You know you want to…and if you’re wondering, that hotel in the picture is <a href=”http://

20140525-091431-33271685.jpgThe Pig near Bath

* Don’t try this at home

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Who knew that 20 minutes at the dentist could feel like a week’s vacation!? (There’s a new boss in town!)

DSCF1151Being a mother has been a dream come true! From the moment Izzie was born I’ve felt like “this is why I am here, to be her mummy”. As a newborn Izzie was amazing, she was so chilled out and relaxed, I felt so lucky. But if there was ever a time for the expression ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’, the time is now.

These days my little angel has become a terror who screams every time I leave the room or walk two feet away. She screams every time I try to hug another person (holding another baby is a horrific crime where Izzie is concerned) and squawks every time I pay attention to something that is not HER.

Oh yes! There’s a new boss in my house and she has me wrapped around all 10 of her fingers and all 10 of her toes. She knows what she wants and how she intends to get it all the while driving mummy insane! 24 hours, 7 days a week, this has become a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby and I am forever grateful for her but as of late, I find myself praying and willing the stormy days of this so called “5th leap” away. Am I the only one who feels this way?!

The other day I had a dentist appointment. If you know me, you know I hate the dentist and I was ever so tempted to cancel. My husband happened to be working from home that day and was happy to keep an eye on the baby while I went to my appointment. So reluctantly, I went.

As I walked out the door into the gorgeous sunlight, towards the evil dentist, the strangest thing happened… my shoulders dropped, my body relaxed and I could hear birds!!! I WAS FREEEEEE!!! All of a sudden I had the time to stop and LITERALLY smell the roses. I had time to walk leisurely and notice my surroundings, grab a coffee and think about what I needed to do for me. I found myself wishing for a lounger and mojito to appear at the side of the road. I mean it’s not the beach but it was sure beginning to feel like a vacation – a girl can dream! But compared to the week I’d had, the 20 minute dentist appointment was a treat! I got to lay on a recliner, under a bright light, wear shades AND fall asleep! I mean, come on how good does that sound right now?!?!

When I finished my appointment I took the leisurely 5 minute walk home, taking the long route (shhhhh!) just to prolong my ‘vacation’ a wee bit. Wow! What a difference 20 minutes can make. As I slowly (VERY VERY SLOWLY) approached my front door, I took one last deep breath of the fresh air and opened the door back in to my reality feeling rejuvenated and alive. I mean who knew 20 minutes at the dentist could feel like a week’s vacation!?

So as much as I love my new ‘boss’, I am reminded that we all need a little holiday every once and awhile, even if it’s just a teeth cleaning.

 

References:

The Wonder Weeks – http://www.thewonderweeks.com/gb/

 

 

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Fangirl

As I was dancing* round in front of my daughter the other day, singing at the top of my voice to Whitney (the word cacophony comes to mind) I suddenly realised – she is my biggest fan. Yeah my husband thinks I’m alright, my friends agree to see me now and then, my dad and brother kind of like me in an eye rolley “where did this one come from?” kind of way, but Serena, she absolUTELY rates me! She’s a total and utter fangirl where I’m concerned. Everything I do is hilarious, my singing is her favourite entertainment, she stares at me all day and watches everything I do with a face of absolute wonder. Say I’m washing up, I’ll look over at her where she’ll invariably be staring at me, and say “hello!” and she goes into absolute paroxysms of delight! Little arms and legs flailing around, huge grin, looking at me like “go on, do something else!”. I used to look at her when she was teeny and wonder when she’d love me back. Well, it’s happened, and some. She can’t get enough of my material!
I was with one of the other GMs recently who held my baby and when her baby saw what was happening she burst into tears and almost clambered off her dad to get back to mum – she’s only just coming up for 6 months old. When she was finally back in her rightful place and the interloper had been seen off back to her side of the table, she threw her arms around her mum’s neck and held on for dear life with a face like “let’s never be apart again!”.
I mean is there any better feeling than being completely adored? As a mum, you’re the absolute universe to one person. But with awesome power comes awesome responsibility, as Anna said in her last post…I really hope I don’t F this up!

* let’s not get technical, we’re all friends here

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If you can’t beat ’em…

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The World Cup is coming, are you prepared?

I live in The House Of Sport. Every day I am treated (read “subjected”) to Sky Sports, Sky Sports News, Breakfast TV Sport, and/or matches of whatever is on at the time. If we’re in the car, sometimes I get to listen to sport as well. Sometimes my hubby will even read articles to me that he thinks I may be interested in*. Though I’m not into sport myself, I don’t really mind** that I’m constantly surrounded by it. I have a method of coping with sport that you might find handy during the World Cup; my attitude? If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Have a look here.

* Bless

**The exception is The Ashes which seems to go on for about 6 months and the matches last ALL DAY.

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World Cup Survival guide

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World Cup Survival guide

The World Cup is coming; get prepared

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For sale: One old life

I’ve just realised why I feel a bit weird today. It’s because I’ve become the couple I bought my flat off 9 years ago. Married couple, little kid, respectable looking clothes, moving out of London for more space…you know what I thought of that couple? That they looked as boring as hell and that I’d never become them (I was 22). Well fast forward to 31 and here I am tidying up the baby’s things for what I hope will be the last viewing on the flat I’ve loved passionately and shared my life with for the best part of a decade.

I’m taking the final step into my new life, I’m buying a house and leaving London. We have found our “dream house” in a great location, great commuter links, garden, off street parking…basically everything that my cool London pad doesn’t have. And much as I love it and am excited to have stairs again, and a proper front door…and somewhere to sit out with a coffee in the morning in my PJs without risking concern for my mental wellbeing from passers by, I do feel a bit sad.
I guess it’s like walking away from a relationship you know has to end; even though it’s you who initiated the break up, you’re still allowed to be sad about it. I’ve had some great times here! The walls still bear the scars of birthday banners (my now husband used Sellotape), the new owner will never know that chip in the kitchen floor tiles was from a wedding-planning mug-smashing incident or that the mark on the floor in the bedroom is from the flat-pack bed assembly night where we didn’t argue! They’ll never know that the bath tub has seen more “serious chats” than anywhere else in the flat, that I stood at that kitchen counter trying to stay calm whilst I was in labour. They’ll never know that I called my mum as soon as I stepped out of my first viewing here and shouted “Mum! It’s the one!” And she said “I’ll help you, just do whatever you can to get it – it’s meant to be!” And that I won’t be able to call her and tell her about the perfect house we’ve found or that she was right when she said we’d walk over the threshold and know it was “the one” straight away. This lounge is the last place I saw my mum when she was still “my mum” before she got too ill to really know who we were anymore. She was sleeping right there, on that sofa, too sick to hold my new baby but was determined to come and be with us despite the fact she had less than a month left.
There are so many memories here – not least trying to creep up the outside stairs quietly at 4am on a Thursday morning after “work drinks” turned into going “out out” on a school night, or walking round and round the kitchen trying to decide how best to tell my husband we were having a baby. Amazing times, laughter, tears, celebrating the biggest moments of my life, all happened within these four walls.
But I’m packing up my old life and passing it onto the next 20-something to enjoy. Shoreditch is just a £20 cab ride away, I’ll tell them. The Thai in the village is great. There’s an Italian that delivers wine, here are the instructions for the boiler I never quite worked out how to use. The marathon starts just out there…you can see the bonfire night fireworks from this window…
I hope whoever ends up here can feel the happiness of the flat. If these walls could talk, well, I’d probably bribe them to stay quiet to anyone else, but I wouldn’t mind a reminisce, just the two of us.

The husband and the insufferable ball-breaker

My husband lovingly asked me the other day “darling, I love you, but when did you turn into such an insufferable ball-breaker?” and I admit, I totally have. It’s mainly to do with tidiness – I felt it coming on whilst I was pregnant, I think that was the first time I noticed how messy my husband is. We went on holiday when I was 7 months pregnant – we’d get to a hotel room and I’d turn my back for a second and the room would look like the bags had exploded!
He just sheds everywhere, it’s like he walks through the door and things just drop off him, making a mess. His evening route through the house is as follows: front door – shoes kicked off and left wherever they land, kitchen – contents of pockets including half screwed up receipts, keys, wallet, a few coins and about 3 half finished packs of chewing gum, emptied onto the kitchen counter. Glass of squash made and half drunk (by bed time this will be joined by 5 other half drunk glasses of squash left in various locations around the place). Hallway coat room – suit jacket possibly hung up, possibly draped over the Hoover, bedroom – suit trousers on the bed, socks and belt on the floor. Tshirt pulled from the bottom or middle of the pile (not the top, never the top), rest of tshirts that fell out whilst chosen tshirt was being extracted just shoved back into the wardrobe. Bottoms the same. Bathroom – shirt on the laundry basket (not in). Back to kitchen – yoghurt opened, lid licked and left on the counter…it continues all night. Then we go to bed (with a fresh glass of squash).
Now I love my husband more than anything, he’s my best friend – but seriously, he’s about as tidy as a teenager! And I should know, I used to be just as bad, in his grooms speech he even mentioned the “floordrobe” (my old penchant for leaving my clothes all over the floor). My bedroom as a teenager was horrendous, I used to have spaces on the floor that I used as stepping stones to the bed – my mum just stopped even asking me to tidy it in the end, it was terrible. Now I can’t go to bed without wiping the worktops and arranging the bathroom curtains just so. What the hell has happened to me?
During the “insufferable ball-breaker” conversation, my point was that I don’t want him to come home and ask me the question “what have you been doing all day?” Meaning “less lunchy lunchy more cleany cleany”, so to avoid that, I started cleaning and tidying as soon as he left (starting with the bathroom chaos – I think he must get out of the shower soaking wet and skip round the room, picking up towels randomly and splashing everything in sight).
He ended up hitting the nail on the head. He said it’s because keeping the house is now my job (albeit temporarily) and I’m pretty wholehearted when it comes to work, so I put all my energy into my new job and make sure I do it well. Which, he said, I am. He also said that he pitied my colleagues. I chose to ignore the last part.

Baby injuries

I realised this morning during a rare courageous moment of looking at myself in a full length mirror, that I’m covered in injuries, inflicted by my teeny tiny (19lb!) 4 month old baby.
I’ve got scratches on my upper arms (and the inside of my mouth) from her razor-nails. She does this thing where she grabs the skin on my upper arms and digs her nails right in and she’s now discovered that she can put her hands in my mouth. So many fun times to be had in there – she seems to pick the moments when I’ve got no hands free to remove them so she can really get her scratch on.
I’ve got bruises from where I lie her on my knees, facing me and she gets over excited by my rendition of “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and kicks me right in the boobs (and belly) and jumps on my thighs.
I thought I heard her choking the other day and I swear I’ve never moved so fast in my life, except that I was on a wooden floor wearing socks and as I rounded the corner my feet went one way and the rest of me carried on. Turned out she was just having a cough and I landed a huge bruise on my right butt cheek and elbow.
She’s always got strand or thirty of my hair still grasped in her chubby little fists whenever I put her down.
My back hurts all the time, my hands are so dry and cracked you could strike a match off them, every time I eat a meal, my belly pops right back out to 4 months pregnant again, I’ve got more spare skin than a shar pei.
But weirdly, despite all the above and add to that many many more wrinkles, uncle fester dark circles and hair (and clothes actually) of a bedraggled scarecrow, I don’t care. I’ve never been so comfortable with my own body – whatever state it’s in now, I don’t give two hoots! This bag of bones I drag round with me every day made a human being! When people say “ugh, to be 25 again” I think “no way”. And I wouldn’t – not for anything. Perky and firm be damned – I made a person!